We have often wondered what to serve with tamales. The classic Mexican dish is tricky to match with the perfect side. We went searching for the best side dishes to serve with tamales.
Tamales are made with masa corn dough stuffed in a banana leaf. The hearty dish can simply be served as a meal on its own. However, adding a side will help you create a total tamale feast.
Whether you are hosting a Mexican-themed party or just looking for a fun new weeknight dinner, tamales are the answer. These side dishes will all complement your tamale meal perfectly!
Side Dishes for Tamales
We found a good variety of side dishes that you can serve with tamales. There is something for everyone on this list!
1. Mexican Rice and Beans
Our Mexican rice and beans may be the best answer to what to serve with tamales. It is also a very traditional side for tamales.
Our Mexican rice and beans are made using white rice, pinto beans, salsa, and seasonings. Using jarred salsa is an easy way to add Mexican flavor to the rice.
Pinto beans add extra protein to the delicious meal as well. This is great if you are serving sweet tamales or plain corn dough tamales.
2. Black Beans
Black beans are a healthy and delicious side dish to serve with tamales. Almost any kind of Mexican tamales will be great paired with black beans. This recipe from Cookie and Kate will show you how to make black beans from scratch.
Dry black beans need to be soaked overnight. This helps soften the beans and will help them cook evenly.
Onions, garlic, and a bay leaf add a lot of flavor to the beans as they slowly cook. Ground cumin, red pepper flakes, and a little orange zest give the beans a lot of Mexican flavors. These beans taste delicious and go so well with tamales.
3. Tortilla Chips
Tortilla chips are a staple in Mexican cuisine. They are served as a side dish to almost every meal! Try your hand at making this classic Mexican side dish using this recipe from Cooking Classy.
Soft flour tortillas are deep-fried in vegetable oil until golden brown. The warm chips are tossed in some salt, and then they are ready to eat.
Squeeze a little lime juice over the tortilla chips for some more authentic Mexican flavor. Serve the tortilla chips with your favorite salsa or guacamole and, of course, tamales!
4. Grilled Vegetable Skewers
Tamales are made with a thick corn dough that is wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaves to cook. Tamales are sometimes made with ground beef or sweet raisins. Tamales don’t often have vegetables in the masa harina filling.
Serving tamales with grilled vegetable skewers is a fantastic way to add veggies to the meal. This recipe for simple grilled veggies from Foodie Crush is a perfect choice.
Corn, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and bell peppers are skewered and grilled. The skewers are not only full of tasty veggies that taste great with tamales, but they also look fantastic.
5. Cilantro Lime Rice
Cilantro lime rice is a staple in Mexican cuisine. The vibrant taste of lime juice and fresh cilantro goes so well with almost any kind of spicy food. Cilantro rice is incredible with tamales, too!
Our cilantro lime rice is very easy to make. We use jasmine rice which has a slight floral taste. Fresh lime juice goes well with corn-based tamales. The fluffy rice is a nice contrast to the thick, hearty tamales.
6. Jicama Slaw
Jicama is a popular Mexican vegetable. It is pale white, crispy, and very juicy. Jicama slaw is the perfect side to pair with tamales. The tender tamales and crunchy jicama slaw are the perfect match!
We love this recipe for apple and jicama slaw from Kalyn’s Kitchen. The spicy pineapple and sriracha sauce is especially delicious. You may want to make extra spicy sauces to use for dipping your tamales.
7. Avocado Soup
We are crazy about this delicious avocado soup recipe from Cooking Classy. There is so much unique flavor in one bowl, and the beautiful green color is also stunning.
Avocado soup may be one of our favorite recipe ideas to serve with tamales. The chicken in the soup makes it quite hearty. Chicken broth is flavorful and rich. Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and skip the shredded chicken for a vegetarian version.
Serve the soup with a garnish of cilantro, fresh lime wedges, a sprinkle of cotija cheese, or a scoop of sour cream. The soup is traditionally served cold but also tastes great when warm.
8. Feta Stuffed Peppers
Creamy, feta cheese stuffed peppers are a delicious side to serve with tamales. This side dish from I Heart Vegetables is a little different than the classic Mexican sides.
Even though the dish has an Italian and Greek twist, it still tastes delicious with tamales!
Small peppers are cut in half and hollowed. Feta, cream cheese, garlic powder, and fresh dill are mixed together to make the filling. The feta stuffed peppers are stuffed and eaten cold or warm.
9. Guacamole Salad
Any kind of guacamole is a good answer to the question of what to serve with tamales. Guacamole is a classic side that goes with almost any Mexican food. You can’t go wrong with good guacamole!
This guacamole salad from Budget Bytes is filling and easy to make. Fresh avocados are mixed with corn, black beans, tomatoes, and jalapenos. All the flavors in the salad will taste amazing with the corn-based dough of the tamales.
10. Tortilla Soup
We love easy side dish recipes. When you can make tasty recipes in just a few minutes, that is a total win! This simple slow cooker tortilla soup from Spend With Pennies is the perfect example of an incredible side dish.
Tortilla soup is the Mexican version of chicken soup. Every bowl has lots of veggies, rich chicken broth, and crispy tortilla chips.
The best part of this recipe is that you can add all the ingredients to your slow cooker, set the temperature, and come back later to a perfectly cooked soup. You will have plenty of time to make your favorite tamales while the soup simmers!
11. Pinto Beans
One-pot meals are the absolute best. One-pot side dishes are just as amazing! These homemade pinto beans from Minimalist Baker are made in one pot, making them easy to put together and clean up.
Olive oil, chopped onions, garlic, and vegetable broth are added to the pot with the pinto beans. Chipotle pepper in spicy adobo sauce is added to the mix.
12. Refried Beans
Instant pot refried beans are an authentic, tasty side to serve with tamales. We love these refried beans from Well Plated by Erin since they are made in an instant pot. You can have perfectly cooked beans in just a few minutes!
These refried beans are made with lots of spices. Try adding a little extra cayenne pepper to give the beans more of a spicy kick. Use chicken stock to make the beans have a richer flavor.
13. Jalapeno and Cheddar Cornbread
Cornbread is always a delicious side dish. It goes very well with homemade tamales. This jalapeno and cheddar cheese cornbread from The Chunky Chef is especially tasty.
The cornbread is baked in a cast-iron skillet. This leads to a pretty presentation and a convenient way to cook the meal. Add some extra shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the cornbread to add even more cheesy flavor.
Elote is more commonly known as Mexican street corn. It is a well-known street food that you can find anywhere in Mexico. Of course, it also tastes great alongside another famous Mexican street food- tamales!
This classic elote recipe from Dinner, Then Dessert is made by slathering corn cobs with sour cream, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and cotija cheese. The corn is wrapped in foil and grilled or baked in the oven.
Fresh lime zest or lime juice is the perfect topping for this creamy, tender vegetable side dish.
15. Mexican Crema
Mexican crema is a classic dipping sauce that is absolutely perfect to serve with tamales. A warm tamale dipped in authentic Mexican crema just can’t be beaten! Downshiftology will help you make the perfect dish.
Sour cream, lime juice, and garlic powder are all you need to make this delicious dip. Use garlic salt to enhance the crema a little more. Use lemon juice for a more mild flavor.
Spread the crema over your favorite tamales, or dip them right into the cream bowl! Keep this recipe in mind when hosting dinner parties that revolve around Mexican cuisine.
Still thinking about what to serve with tamales? Why not pair your tamales wrapped in corn husks with a delicious drink. This recipe from The Recipe Critic will help you make an amazing horchata.
Horchata is a cinnamon-flavored Mexican drink. It is made by soaking white rice in milk, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla.
Horchata often has rum added to the mix, but you can definitely skip the alcohol. Horchata is always an excellent drink for the holiday season, with or without the alcohol.
A sip of horchata and a tender tamale sounds like an incredible Mexican dish.
Curtido is a fermented cabbage slaw that is a popular side for any Mexican main dish. It is the perfect answer to the question of what to serve with tamales!
This quick curtido from Tastes Better From Scratch can be made in just a few minutes. The vinegar gives the slaw that fermented taste without having to wait days for the cabbage to actually ferment. Let the curtido marinate for a few hours to really soak up some flavor.
Use purple and green cabbage for a prettier side dish. This is such a unique and gorgeous side dish from South America!
18. Caesar Salad
A caesar salad goes with just about any food. It definitely tastes great alongside tamales! This easy caesar salad from Once Upon a Chef is truly perfect.
The homemade dressing in the salad makes a flavorful impact. The sprinkle of parmesan cheese over the salad adds a yummy salty taste with tamales.
19. Black Bean Soup
Inspired Taste will show you how to make an incredible black bean soup. The soup is hearty, healthy, and perfect for serving with tamales.
Most black bean soups are smooth. The beans are pureed after cooking to make a thick soup. This black bean soup has a few chunk pieces, which we adore. Top your black bean soup with avocado, creama, or chopped cilantro for the perfect finishing touch.
A delicious restaurant-style salsa is exactly what you should serve with tamales. This recipe from Sugar Spun Run is easy and requires no mincing or chopping at all!
Salsa is best served cold, so you can make this yummy side dish days in advance and store it in your fridge. Dip your delicious tamales right into the salsa, pour the tomato salsa over the top of the tamales or just eat them side by side.
Perfect Sides to Serve with Corn Husk or Banana Leaf Tamales
Pick one of these delicious side dishes for tamales, and let us know which is your favorite. If you have any other tasty sides that you love with tamales, let us know.
We always want to try new ways to serve our favorite meals! Enjoy
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